Early on in His earthly ministry, Jesus delivered one of His most well-known and compelling “sermons.” In the middle of this great discourse, He took up the topic of prayer.
Jesus taught the large crowd who had gathered below him on a Galilean mountainside not to try to impress others with their eloquent prayers (Matthew 6:5). He also said they shouldn’t try to employ lots of words to manipulate their Heavenly Father into hearing their prayers. After all, their Heavenly Father knows what they need before they ask (Matthew 6:7-8).
He then gave the people a practical example of what He was describing—which many have dubbed “The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13).
First, He demonstrated a worshipful and reverent prayer by simply starting with “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). And then in just a few short words that would nearly fit into a single “tweet,” Jesus showed how to meaningfully pray for God’s kingdom to reign on earth as in heaven, daily needs, forgiveness, and deliverance from the evil one’s influence (Matthew 6:10-13).
Urgent times may call for longer prayers, like the time my friend’s grandmother boldly entered the throne of the Almighty on behalf of her grandson whose life hung by a thread. My point here is that we should not confuse quantity with quality. Long does not equal better.
On the eve of His crucifixion, the gospel accounts record Jesus praying long and hard in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 36:42). But it’s interesting to note that even there the record shows His words were few:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
“My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
Even as Jesus hung suffering on a cross, the prayers He uttered out loud were brief.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
“Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” [which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”] (Matthew 27:46).
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)
Here’s the point to consider: Our prayers don’t have to be long and drawn out to be authentic, heartfelt, and effective.